Step-Families or New Family Units

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With 1 in every 5 adults in the United States getting divorced, you could find yourself experiencing your parents’ divorce and becoming part of a step-family or a new family unit.

Challenges when you’re part of a new step-family/new family unit. You might face a range of issues when you become part of a new step-family or family unit. These might include divided loyalties making you feel like you have to choose between two different families as well as adjusting to your parents' new partners and/or families.

What about the past? A new family doesn’t mean you reject or forget your experiences with your original family.

Suggestions for making the transition smoother 

  • Accept the challenge. It’s important not to give up on it before it starts or make any judgments about the new people in your life or about how you will fit in. 
  • Take one day at a time. It can take months and sometimes even years for things to settle down. 
  • Having your own space. If it is possible, make sure you have your own space at both houses, which might include your toiletries, favorite music, and clothes. 
  • Make time for yourself. It’s important to take time out to do things for yourself and stick to other routines. 
  • Speak to other family members. They could be feeling the same way.Sharing with others how you are feeling about everything can be helpful because it can lead to decisions on what you want to happen. It’s important to speak up - and earlier, rather than later! 
  • Speak to someone outside the situation. You might also find it helpful to talk to someone who’s not directly involved, such as a friend, teacher or counselor.

Positives. Even though it might not feel like it at the beginning, being a part of a step-family can be a positive experience and might include a bigger family, a bigger support network, and more flexibility.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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